Safety Sailors


A couple of days ago we anchored quickly before a squall was over us and we could not have picked a better spot. The high pressure systems below 20 degree latitude was not the weather making it possible for us to go from Tahanea to Makemo it was Tropical Disturbance 13F (TD13F) headed our way from the west north-west. We first thought after arriving in Makemo we’d have a couple of days to make our way from the northwest pass to the northeast pass near the village, but the weather was not as predicted and came sooner than expected. After TD13F passes we plan to skip visiting Raroia, say good-bye to the Tuamotu Islands, and head for the Marquesas. Generally leaving from the northeast pass is a better wind direction to the Marquesas but we want to stay in a safe place while waiting out the storm.

Most of the yesterday was too rainy for us to see coral heads in the atoll so we stayed put. We hope everyone had as lovely of a Valentine as we did. Boat bound because of the weather we made heart shaped pancakes, played Scrabble, and had steak and potato’s for dinner. Yep we still have steak from Hawaii that taste as fresh as ever. We have finally eaten through one of our three freezers. At night the wind kicked up to 32 knots and rainy.

This morning we checked our position to make sure the anchor did not drag at night and turned on the radar to see the size of storm headed our way. We were very pleased that our oversized 110 pound anchor, which is twice the size recommended for this boat, did not budge in the night. The anchor chain was stretched holding us 224 feet behind the anchor. The radar showed that the storm continued over six miles, but luckily more easterly. We were getting some of the wind and rain but the northeast pass was getting the bulk of the weather. Wonderfully our solar is proving to very handy, even with all of the clouds we started putting 10 amps in our batteries at 7:30 AM. 88% charged by noon even after using the electric cook top.

As the morning wore off the wind calmed down to 18 knots with gust to 24 knots and we juggled the idea of making a run for the northeast pass. Our choices were to stay in a known safe anchorage or run to an anchorage that appears safe from the chart and guide books and pray that it did not rain in the five hours we were moving across the atoll. The rain here has been different than Penrhyn rain, that literally whites out everything around the boat, we could still see nearby coral heads very clearly. We thought just maybe this is our one shot to stay on somewhat of a schedule and leave on time. The wind is forecasted to reach a high of 38.9 knots in the next day so we know this is our only window to make it across the atoll. In the end we looked at the benefits of being near town (pearls, fresh baguettes, croissants, and possibly an internet connection) and decided that it is better to be safe than sorry. We are very comfortable where we are anchored, confident the anchor is holding, and couldn’t ask for better protection from the impending storm.

Wade and Sara

Boat Position: 16 degrees 26.643 minutes south and 143 degrees 56.988 minutes west.

Comfort Cruising Tip: When choosing between a heavy anchor and heavy chain, we support the theory of selecting a heavy anchor over heavy chain. Heavy chain is used to act like an anchor and lay on the seafloor. In heavy weather when your chain gets stretched the length that is paid out the force of the wind can lift the chain off the seafloor leaving only the anchor to hold fast. Additionally, when anchoring near large coral heads the chain can be floated using buoy’s to prevent wrapping the chain around the coral head again leaving the large anchor to do all of the holding.

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